Lightning prepared for Wings’ extra fuel from fans
Detroit – The Lightning won two games at home and arrived in Joe Louis Arena with the force of a team on a roll, and with a blistering hot line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn.
But they will not have the last line change, which goes to the home team, and they must play in a building, Joe Louis Arena, known as a difficult atmosphere for visiting teams, especially in the playoffs.
The Lightning nonetheless pronounced themselves ready Sunday, emphasizing the need to play a simple game and withstand an expected onslaught from the Red Wings, propelled in part by their fans.
“Well, naturally, it’s a little harder to play on the road,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said ahead of the 7 p.m. start Sunday night. “The pluses – there’s probably less distraction surrounding your team. So, in that sense, a little bit of focus.
“But when you get to the ice, the home crowd gives you a boost, no matter what. I know I gave us a boost in Tampa and I’m sure it’s going to do the same thing for Detroit.
“We just have to understand, you know, we’ve played here before. We had a long playoff series against them, last year, a couple of games early in the season. So we kind of know what to expect here.
“I’m sure Detroit’s going to come out flying.”
Lightning on switch
Kucherov has three goals, two assists and a plus-six rating through two games, and like many of the Lightning, he said he was anticipating a big push from the Red Wings in Game 3, in front of the Detroit fans.
“Play simple,” he said of his approach. “You know they’re going to come hard. We’ve got to be ready for that. Just stick to the structure and play our own game, as we did in the first to games, and we’re going to be good.”
Of the Wings’ goalie switch, from Jimmy Howard to Petr Mrazek, Kucherov said there is no adjustment.
“We don’t even think about it,” he said. “We just think of being ourselves. It doesn’t matter who’s in net. You’ve just got to put the puck on the net and shoot more.”
Mike Bluden had a piece of the action in the last minute of Game 2, when the players on the ice other than the goalies squared off and a bit of a donnybrook ensued.
He has some stitches on a cut on his mouth to show for it, although he only received two minutes for roughing.
“Everyone’s just trying to get in and get a guy,” Blunden said. “You don’t want anyone to be two-on-one, or anything like that.
“But it’s been a physical series,” said the 29-year-old forward, who had two hits, two takeaways and three blocked shots through two games.